Ken asked me weeks ago if I was interested in seeing one of his favorite singers, Alice Wallace and her band, perform up in Orange County and do a little birding at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach.
Bolsa Chica is the largest salt water marsh between Monterey and Tijuana on the California coast.
I had never been there before so I said yes.
Since I'm not much of a drinker and pretty much hate crowds I grudgingly assented on the post birding activities, I could always sleep in the car if the music or scene was really bad.
But I watched one of her YouTube videos yesterday morning and she was pretty darn good so what the hell?
I'm a little worried, have had a scratchy throat for a few days and don't want to be real sick when I get on an airplane next week. I met him behind the Art Center at noon and after a fast chili cheeseburger at Chili Coast in Vista we started our quest.
After an uneventful ride into Orange County we arrived at the northernmost parking lot and visited the nice woman at the Interpretive Center. We devised a plan. I would hike to the south, stopping at the large palm grove where owls and other large birds were said to typically roost and Ken would drive to the south and set up a nikkor 200-400mm telephoto zoom he had rented and the heavy gimbal head and tripod.
Conditions were frankly less than optimal on this afternoon, a strong wind damping the appearance of some of the Reserve's inhabitants. And I have to be honest. I have birded allover our fair land and I have never seen so much trash and refuse littering a wetlands as I did yesterday in Bolsa Chica.
It reminded me very much of Bufadora in Baja. Sort of shocking to see the neglect and sheer volume of litter, especially on the northern banks. I could never imagine people in San Diego putting up with it at San Elijo or the people in Riverside thinking it acceptable at San Jacinto. But as we all know, Orange County people are a bit different.
For a supposed birder, I am real weak on shorebirds and gulls as well as many other types. This should be a good experience and opportunity to learn for me and it was.
I made my way to the tall stand of trees. An eponymous friend gracefully soared overhead. I saw several large nests in the palms.
I encountered many more birds in nests as I made my way around the perimeter. I was starting to really enjoy my afternoon.
Walking back along the trail I saw a mother coyote stop and give the look, very close to me, her large teats quite swollen. She darted under the fence and into the scrub, where her pups were obviously safely hidden away.
A beautiful brown pelican played in the light chop to my left.
It was about this point in my walk that I saw my first tern.
The sheer numbers of terns were astounding, at times a real boil.
|I am going to assume that this is a doublecrested cormorant but it may be something completely different.|
An eared grebe that was really pretty.
Mike and Liz joined us near the end. They found the geese. We all met afterwards at Don the Beachcomber for dinner and drinks. Felt a little guilty after the afternoon but had the duck anyway...
Alice Wallace is great, a yodeling chanteuse with a big voice and a bigger heart, not to mention a great band. She had a super guy on sax and clarinet last night but the whole band was terrific and I look forward to seeing her again.